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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  May 23, 2014 12:00am-12:31am PDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with elizabeth warren whose tome says that capitalism works best when it is not focused against the middle class. she is working on a bill that would allow student loans to be refinanced at a better interest rate. then we turned to jon favreau, whose latest film is a comedy set in the competitive world of food trucks. ♪
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ares: the statistics overwhelming. 38 million students have more than 1.2 trillion dollars in student loan debt, 30% greater than the entire credit card debt for the entire country. those have the highest rate of delinquency as well.
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joining us from washington, senator elizabeth warren. she has introduced a bill to ease the burden of those student loans. always an honor to have you on this program. >> always an honor to be here. >> i want to get to the student loans soon. let me ask the public about the new text. there is some powerful stuff. i wonder if you might share with the audience the story of you watching your mother advancing , putting on a dress to go work -- look for work at sears because things had gotten a little tight in your family. tell me that story. >> like a lot of families we had our ups and downs. when i was 12 my daddy was selling carpeting. my three older brothers were often the military, dash off in the military. my mom was a stay-at-home mom.
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dad had a bad heart attack and was at the hospital for a long time and at home for a long time without work. bills piled up. we lost the family station wagon. we were at the edge of being about to lose our house. that is where i started the book. myemember the day i was in mother's bedroom and she had pulled her best dress out of the closet, and she was 50 years old and was about to go look for work for the first time. she pulled that dress on. she struggled with the zipper. she put her high heels on and put on lipstick much and i watched her when she walked to sears to get a minimum wage job to save our family. this has always been the key about this story. my mother did what needed to be done, but it was also a time in america when a minimum wage job
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would keep the family of three of float, and that is what it did for our family. home.nt we saved our we got things steadied out. my dad ended up at a main -- as a maintenance man. my mom ended up working at sears. we survived because we were in an america that believed in how we build a middle class, how we strengthen the middle class. how we give all of our kids of fighting chance, so that is where i start this book. tavis: fast-forward a few years. student loan debt in this cardry exceeds credit debt. as we move on this conversation, there are many surveys that point out there are many who believe they don't have a clue how to fix this problem, in part because so many don't have the kind of back story you have. that is to say the senate is
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full of millionaires, and there are americans who don't believe or have at the epicenter of their duty to understand what they are struggling with to put their kids through college. can you ensure the american public that senators understand this, that senators get what it means to get this kind of debt to get a public education? >> we have to get out there and fight to make sure they do understand. we are workinge on right now. it is one point $2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt. this debt is exploding. in eight years the amount of debt has gone up by 70%. more kids are taking on more and more debt, and it's starting to have an effect all the way through the economy. these are kids who can move out of their parents homes, can't -- houses, cap by cars,
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can't buy cars, can't save to build their own lives. there is a real question in front of the united states we are about to introduce a bill that says we need to intrude -- to reduce the this home.tes on small businesses have refinanced their loans. even municipalities and government have refinanced their loans, but not our kids who have got student loans. many of them are stuck at seven percent, eight percent, nine percent, 10%, and even higher. this bill says we are going to reduce the interest rate on student loans for all of our young people who got out there, who did the right dink, who tried to get an education, and givewe are trying to do is them a fair shot at building a life for themselves. we have got more than 30 and thers right now
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united states senate. this is our fight. we have got to get out there and fight for it. we have to fight for our kids. we have to fight for their future. they just want a fair shot at building something. this is their chance. tavis: i don't know anyone that doesn't help what they want to do in education. it seems that everybody believes education is our passport to the future. you have got to have an education if you want to make it in america. who doesn't believe that? yet i am trying to juxtapose an uphill fight it has been. explain the disconnect. >> here is the problem. those student loans are making huge profits for the federal government. huge profits.
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billions of dollars of profits every year for the federal government. that's after you pay for the administrative costs and do the bad debt losses and the cost of the fund. students are being charged enough to produce all of this extra money, and that extra money is being used to run the government. to reduce the interest rate on student loans we have got to find the money somewhere else. that wepropose is stitch up some of the tax loopholes that are only good for millionaires and billionaires. talkedember when we about this. we have got away to pay for it. we say stitch up the tax loopholes for billionaires and take every dollar and put it into paying down the interest rate on student loans. that is our starting place. this puts it right
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out there to say who does this government work for. who does your senator work for? does your senator say, it's more important to protect the tax loopholes for millionaires and so they are going to vote no on this bill, or does your senator say it's more important that we make the investment in our young people, that we bring down the interest loans?n student as a country we can invest in billionaires, or we can invest in our students and give our at gettingfair shot ahead. that's the question in front of us. we have to get people involved. tavis: you know full well. you are not new to washington. you know you are going to be up against a huge and well financed corporate lobby that is going to push back on you trying to close the loopholes. me about the
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debate in washington, is there any proposal that you put forth anticorporate and gets you labeled as anti-american? how do you fight that fight when that is the rhetoric you will be up against? >> you hit the nail on the head. have got is the lobbyists are there for the big corporations, for the billionaires to protect their tax loopholes. they have tilted the playing field. i talked about it in my book how the playing field has been tilted. i give my own personal account of this. they have got concentrated money on their side. powerave got concentrated on their side. all we have on our site is voices and votes. we have to make them count. this is our fight.
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we are going to make the decision about whether this is a level playing field or is this just a country that works for millionaires and billionaires? i put my money on the people. fight i think we will fight back. a future. we build >> let me ask a question. when?ll gets introduced once it's introduced, what did the american people do? the bill is going to be introduced this week. it is on student loans. i want people to go online. we will give you the exact base they need to go. it's to go online. you can google to find this out. sign up on the petition. tell washington the
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american people are paying attention, that our young people are paying attention, that their parents are paying attention, that the grandparents are paying attention, that this is an issue that matters to them because when people sign those petitions, and they say, who cares? i will tell you who cares. the united states senate cares. we want to get one million people to sign a petition that says we care more about investing in students then in billionaires. we have to make our voices heard. right now doing it through our petitions is the best way to do that. we have to be organized, and we have to be loud. >> let me close by going back to your new book. what do you hope to take away would be for readers who would get to know your story a little better? >> the answer is to understand we once had in america trying to build a fighting chance not just
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for some of our kids but for all of our kids. in theed away from that 1980's. we have gone to a world that is all about i have got mine. the rest of you are on your own. voices to us to make our heard, to make our votes count, to say on our own behalf and on behalf of our children and grandchildren we are going to rebuild an america that gets every kid a fighting chance. called "a book is fighting chance," and the author is the massachusetts democrat. she has both -- only been there a few years. the senior senator. they for the conversation. coming up actor and director jon favreau. stay with us. -- thank you for the conversation.
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filmmaker jon favreau has seen his superhero movies become a billion-dollar enterprise. he takes on the much less ,angerous world of food trucks a phenomenon that can arguably be traced to los angeles. this was somewhat of a passion project for him. a coproducer, aup director. let's take a look at the scene chef."shaf >> i am in austin. >> are you ok? >> i am great. >> how is your dad? >> do you want me to come pick him up? >> you are 1000 miles away. >> i can go pick him up.
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i want him to come home. i love him. >> he is fine. he has a couple of birds. >> i am serious. let me come pick him up. >> i am a cook. >> be careful. it looks like you're having so much fun. canid you know your son work a grill? >> i had beer. >> what did he say? to do why did he want this one? >> it's the first time a script hit me that i wrote since all ins, and i wrote it a matter of weeks. i love the food world. i love talking about fatherhood, the creative rosses, balancing career with family. it just came out really easy, and i decided to try to do it. i had some friends who helped me do it for not so much money.
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we shot for a month, and this was the best experience in the world. tavis: you got some good friends. >> i do. tavis: it helps to have friends in this town. have you always been a foodie? >> i am not adventurous enough to be a foodie. i have always loved food. i trained for many months for this film. opened my eyes. i met a lot of people like wolfgang puck. i was cooking in his kitchen with him, and he made me cook an omelette and front of david chang and roy choi and the whole kitchen crew. they put me through the hazing. now i am pretty solid on the line. i really enjoy that world. i am fascinated because roy is a genius in his own right. wolfgang puck is wolfgang puck. what you learn from guys who are
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chefs who control that kind of environment? >> it makes me a better director, because i see that they take seriously their role as leader and teacher. when you work in the kitchen there's not a lot of money, so you are there to learn from the shaft. there is an apprentice-master dynamic, but you are also communicating the culture of the kitchen, and you need that relationship because you're food is only expressed are the hands of your kitchen staff. he goes into the kitchen, shakes everybody's hands. at the beginning of the shift he checks in with everyone. directors don't do that much. those are your people. they are making your dreams come true. what do you make of this notion that it's about the love they put in the food? >> it depends who you talk to, but the high-end chefs believe there is something going on
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beyond mechanics. time iber the first followed him around. i walked in and said, you see that guy. i don't like how he is standing. he said, you can see it in the food. he meant it. he thinks you can really taste it. he goes there. it is a way to create and focus on what you're doing. if you are completely focused it changes the way the food tastes. tavis: it is a comedy. tell the story you have written. guy was the best new chef 10 years ago.
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he is working for dustin hoffman day of foodoss. one critic comes in. instead of stretching himself he took the same dishes he is requested to do by his boston oliver platt, the critic emma rips him a new one. the guy gets his 10-year-old son andign him up for twitter ends up accidentally starting a war. he has to start from scratch. they go to miami to get a food that is when the adventure really begins. is a comedy, but it's more than just a movie about food. it's also a movie about relationships.
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when you say what -- >> when you say why do i do it, i work on the big words. the bigwigs are about escape and spectacle. the world. to make a movie specific about our culture and realized rob loves and real life something thenot studios are green lighting anymore. i have to pull back with my independent roots and do something with limited resources. it's a throwback to my independent comedies. swingers is about hollywood. dad,is about being a losing track of your family, and finding the humor in it and letting there be some hard. just like in the cooking. i feel like i am doing that with this movie as well. tavis: when you have done the big stuff and then it so well, beautifule joy in the
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struggle of trying to bring in an independent film to life? >> you want to see if you still have got the chops after seeing ween at done them killing it on girls and luis e k and will -- louis ck. can i still do that? that was the nice thing about wolfgang. he leads the kitchen, but when he grabs a frying pan he can do it himself. can i still write a script? can i still say something without all the bells and whistles? it's really great to do an acoustic album after having all that high production value. that was a big thrill for me. the only thing that bums me out about it is that people are working for less money than they should be getting. but we got to shoot in los angeles, which is very hard to
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do. we had to take a haircut to be able to do that. we didn't get a rebate. those aren't widely available yet, but we did find a way to get through. i love the tools and storytelling. i love having the world as your audience. to sayto be able something i believe then that is personal and specific that i don't have to satisfy a whole committee of people or explain why something is funny or why i want to cast something a certain way, that is incredibly freeing, and i hope to be able to do it more. one of the things i friendse, he that has must show himself friendly. you have got friends. you have to be friendly. what is interesting is when you call on this list of friends they all show up.
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that has to make you feel good. >> it did. >> you have academy award winners. everybody would deserve one because they are super talented. too.all come from indies, the ironman cast was not put together as the biggest stars of the moment. that is like money ball. this is the talented actors who work for scale. scarlet, jeff bridges, everyone established themselves in that world, so when i pulled the cast together it was not an obvious movie star cast. they have all elevated and gone on to other franchises, but it's hard to remember back in 2007 an obvious group of
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actors. when i turned to robert or dustin hoffman and said, we're going to do a little one. it's going to be a month. i will make sure you have fun. we will rehearse a little bit. you're going to have a good time and end up with a movie you are proud of. i know that is a pitch i would respond to. some great food. i know that would have gotten me there. is going to sound gratuitous, but gary chamblee. shandling. >> he plays a senator. it was appearance on your show that gave him the idea to play the senator because he was so well spoken here in a different take on his persona because he is a smart guy. i think it brings out the best of him, a great side of him, so
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we use the footage of this show to show the marvel people this is who we want to play the part. tavis: gary, that was gratuitous. this ain't. you owe me. gary.l love i love you, too. always good to have you here. the movie "chef." that's our show for tonight. thanks for watching. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation wijd po writer -- conversation with matthew weiner about the acclaimed men's final that's next time. we will see you then.
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♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. thank you. >> be more.
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announcer: support for "kqed science" is provided by... support is also provided by the members of kqed. sethi: the business of growing food has always been tough.